Off the coast of Ireland an island
sleeps in the shape of a man.
To the ones who first saw him,
from a cliff edge or boat rail,
he must have come out of the mist
like a newly fallen god,
a drowned giant, his body gone
over to forest, his hair tumbling
into wave-break, hands tucked,
circled by birds. An island,
but also a man, a recognizable god.
Why do we look for ourselves
everywhere, mapping distance
between the heart and the wild?
Just on the edge of perception something
thrashes, screams, becomes a bird
crossing your line of sight. Always,
this fluency: a world dangling within
a world, another unbearable place
to inhabit. Always, lines arranging
the shape as it rises. Grief: wind in
a white field, the hand’s
slow opening. What is time
but loss and gain,
the runner stumbling into the ribbon?
I, too, have done it—
given love a skin, a pair of arms,
offered it a bed to burn in.
It is the consequence of despair,
of love’s strange face, any wild thing:
we trace it down into something not new,
but known, something that sleeps.